ALL ENGLAND 2014 Qualifying – Let the games begin!

The most prestigious badminton tournament of all has once again opened its doors to the very best shuttlers worldwide.  The highly competitive tournament is set to be a delight for […]

The most prestigious badminton tournament of all has once again opened its doors to the very best shuttlers worldwide.  The highly competitive tournament is set to be a delight for all spectators and viewers around the world as the qualifying rounds show it all.  With top players taking part of Tuesday’s matches, the entire week’s action will, without a doubt, meet the expectations.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent live in Birmingham.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

With a renewed contract with Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, going now until 2021, Badminton England seemed more willing than ever to prove their complete dominance in terms of event organization.  Despite the renovation going on over the whole arena, the impeccably prepared event has, as always, a high chance of finishing with a five-star rating.

The qualifying rounds were filled with very high profile players not really accustomed to stepping on court before Wednesday, and this added more drama to the promising day it was expected to be.

Men’s singles was the first discipline to pull out majestic performances, with Finland’s Ville Lang (pictured) triumphing over the up-and-coming Danish talent Emil Holst in a one-hour-twenty-minute battle.  Despite the five match points in his racket, the former European Junior Champion let Lang’s powerful smashes and experience take the spotlight as the Finn crossed first the finish line with an extremely tight score of 19-21, 23-21, 25-23.

Nonetheless, the misfortune switched sides, as Ville Lang came back for his second round match against Malaysia’s Misbun Ramdan Mohmed Misbun and, despite a first game won 21-18, the number one Finnish player asked for medical care in the second game, having difficulty playing because of apparent cramps that forced him to give up in the deciding game, clearing his chances to appear in the main draw.

The current women’s singles sensation Akane Yamaguchi will definitely want to forget her first appearance as she suffered a huge blow on Tuesday, despite coming in full of confidence from her enviable string of performances beginning with her superb win at home last September.  Akane was shown the door earlier than expected by Pai Yu Po (pictured top) from Chinese Taipei, who achieved here probably the best upset of her career so far.  The 13-21, 21-19, 21-18 win over the Japanese jewel must have physically weakened her, however, as she didn’t seem as effective against qualifying round second seed, and Czech Republic’s Kristina Gavnholt took the best out of the young Taiwan player and grabbed a precious to the main draw.

Changing partners means for most of the time having to climb again the ranking ladder to get a chance to rest until Wednesday, thus having occasionally top players playing the qualifying rounds. The new combination of Olympic and World Champions, Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan (pictured), being the new test of the Chinese coach, certainly do not seemed destined to last long as a pair, as they were extremely close to get ousted of the tournament by Gan Teik Chai and Ong Soon Hock in the very first round, needing the prolongation to pursue their road into the draw, winning 21-9, 19-21, 22-20.  The error was corrected a few hours after, as they rushed to the main draw with an easy win over Chen and Lu of Chinese Taipei.

The same may go for Chai Biao and Tang Jinhua.  Both players are accustomed to finishing on the podium but they started in Birmingham all the way down to in the qualifying rounds, from whence they only reached the main draw with great difficulty in their last encounter against the up-and-coming Gideon Markus Fernaldi and Rizki Amelia Pradipta from Indonesia.

The road to the title has now been declared, leaving the 104th All England with a host of promising and intense matches to come.

Click here for complete qualifying round results

If you are coming for the All England Championships, or whenever you visit Birmingham, try Badzine’s partner hotel, the City Nites Apartments. Offering fully serviced apartments, it is a stylish setting for long or short-term business people and visitors, and a great place to stay during the All England Championships.

CLICK HERE to make a reservation at the City Nites.

About Tarek Hafi